Exploring Beethoven's Piano Sonatas Part 3 Course Reviews

Exploring Beethoven's Piano Sonatas Part 3 is a Coursera course by Jonathan Biss that focuses on four of Ludwig van Beethoven's early-period piano sonatas.

Exploring Beethoven's Piano Sonatas Part 3 Course Reviews
Exploring Beethoven's Piano Sonatas Part 3 Course Reviews

The course comprises of 7 modules, each dedicated to exploring one of the sonatas, as well as an introductory module that sets the historical context for the pieces.

Throughout the course, Biss provides insights into the structure, form, and interpretive challenges of each sonata, and shares his own experiences in performing the pieces. He also offers demonstrations and analysis of key musical passages, shedding light on Beethoven's musical language and creative process.

In addition to the video lectures, the course includes supplemental materials such as recommended readings and listening, discussion forums, and quizzes to test understanding.

Exploring Beethoven's Piano Sonatas Part 3 offers an engaging and insightful exploration of some of Beethoven's earliest piano sonatas, suitable for both pianists and classical music enthusiasts alike.

Course Content:

Exploring Beethoven's Piano Sonatas Part 3 is a 7 modules online course on Coursera taught by pianist and Beethoven expert Jonathan Biss. The course includes module the following:

Module 1: welcome to class

We are glad that you have joined us for Part 3 of Exploring Beethoven's Piano Sonatas course, taught by Curtis faculty member and extraordinary concert artist, Jonathan Biss! This course is considered Part 3, with new and separate sets of lectures. Specifically, in Part 3 we will cover Beethoven's Piano Sonatas Op. 10, No. 1, Op. 22, Op. 31, No. 2 and Opp. 78, 79 and 81a. As with the other two Beethoven courses, it is not necessary to have taken the previous Exploring Beethoven's Piano Sonatas courses. We know you will be perfectly comfortable to start learning with Part 3, if you wish and go from here. There is always the option to go back to Parts 1 and 2 at any time. Between these two courses, there exists a large amount of additional resources and learning that might be helpful as you embark on Part 3. We certainly encourage you to take Parts 1 and 2, if you have not just yet. In the meantime, enjoy the class: Part 3 of Exploring Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas.


Module 2: Op. 10 No. 1 (11 videos)

11 videosTotal 62 minutes
  • Opus 10 number 1: The "c minor Mood"6 minutesPreview module
  • Opus 10 number 1: Extremes of Tempo and Character1 minute
  • 1st Movement: Pulse as a Source of Character9 minutes
  • 1st Movement: High Drama within the Conventions of the Time2 minutes
  • 1st Movement: A Development with New Material4 minutes
  • 1st Movement: Hammer Blows in c minor4 minutes
  • 2nd Movement: An Adagio Oasis9 minutes
  • 2nd Movement: A Coda that Expands the Movement’s Scope8 minutes
  • 3rd Movement: Prestissimo!5 minutes
  • 3rd Movement: Short-Short-Short-LONG3 minutes
  • 3rd Movement: Beginning with Defiance; Ending with Mystery7 minutes


Module 3: Op. 22 (7 videos)

7 videosTotal 54 minutes
  • Op 22: The Sonata that Washed Itself5 minutesPreview module
  • 1st Movement: Wit and Athleticism7 minutes
  • 1st Movement: Playing by the Rules8 minutes
  • 2nd Movement: An Aria on the Piano7 minutes
  • 2nd Movement: Effortless Mastery6 minutes
  • 3rd Movement: A Rhythmic Link to the Rest of the Work5 minutes
  • 4th Movement: A Grazioso Goodbye to the Earliest Period12 minutes


Module 4: Op. 31 No. 2 (10 videos)

10 videosTotal 68 minutes
  • Op. 31 no. 2: An Adventurous, Unsettling Masterwork3 minutesPreview module
  • 1st Movement: A Recitative hat is not a Recitative; An Introduction that is not an Introduction7 minutes
  • 1st Movement: A Confrontation of Opposites7 minutes
  • 1st Movement: The Structural Lines Grow Blurrier7 minutes
  • 1st Movement: And Finally, the Recitative!10 minutes
  • 2nd Movement: Harmonic and Emotional Stability at Las3 minutes
  • 2nd Movement: Evoking Voices and Instruments7 minutes
  • 2nd Movement: Exploring the Piano’s Extreme Registers3 minutes
  • 3rd Movement: A Slow-Moving Perpetual Motion9 minutes
  • 3rd Movement: Anxiety and Ambuguity8 minutes


Module 5: opp. 78, 79 and 81a (11 videos)

11 videosTotal 78 minutes
  • Op. 78, 1st Movement: After a Long Pause, A Sonata Beethoven Loved7 minutesPreview module
  • Op. 78, 1st and 2nd Movements: Warmth and Humor3 minutes
  • Op. 79, 1st Movement: Beethoven, Modest and Unbuttoned4 minutes
  • Op. 79, 1st Movement: Phrase Lengths as a Source of Humor5 minutes
  • Op. 79, 2nd and 3rd Movements: Sonata Movements as Character Pieces9 minutes
  • Op. 81a: The Birth of Program Music for the Piano7 minutes
  • Op. 81a, 1st Movement: Le-Be-Wohl7 minutes
  • Op. 81a, 1st Movement: Extreme Economy of Gesture…6 minutes
  • Op. 81a, 1st Movement: …And a Return to Expansiveness5 minutes
  • Op. 81a, 2nd Movement: Conveying Absence through Harmonic Uncertainty9 minutes
  • Op. 81a, 3rd Movement: After Melancholy, Euphoriac11 minutes


Module 6: Listening to the Sonatas

To supplement your learning during the course, enjoy free access to several of the Jonathan's Beethoven Sonatas recordings.


Module 7: Your Thoughts Welcome




Exploring Beethoven's Piano Sonatas Part 3 is a high-quality course that is designed to provide an in-depth exploration of Beethoven's piano sonatas. The course is taught by Jonathan Biss, who is a renowned pianist and Beethoven expert.

One of the strengths of this course is Biss's ability to present complex musical concepts in an accessible way. He uses a combination of video lectures, interactive quizzes, and performance demonstrations to engage students and help them deepen their understanding of the material. The video lectures are clear, concise, and well-organized, and they cover a range of topics, including the history and context behind each sonata, Beethoven's musical style and technique, and key musical elements such as harmony, melody, and form.

Another strength of this course is the quality of the interactive assignments and quizzes. The assignments are designed to help students test their understanding of the material and apply what they've learned to real-world examples. The quizzes provide students with immediate feedback on their progress, and they are a great way to reinforce the material covered in the video lectures.

Perhaps the most valuable aspect of this course is the opportunity to learn from a world-class musician like Jonathan Biss. He provides performance demonstrations of each sonata, which allows students to see and hear how the music should be played. He also shares his own insights and interpretations of the music, which can help students develop their own critical listening skills.

Overall, Exploring Beethoven's Piano Sonatas Part 3 is an excellent course that is well-suited for both novice and experienced classical music enthusiasts. It provides a thorough and engaging exploration of Beethoven's piano sonatas, and it offers valuable insights into the history, context, and musical elements that make these works so compelling.

At the time, the course has an average rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars based on over 104 ratings.

What you'll learn:

After completing Exploring Beethoven's Piano Sonatas Part 3 on Coursera, students will have developed a range of skills related to their understanding and appreciation of Beethoven's piano sonatas. Some of the key skills that students can expect to gain from this course include:

  1. Enhanced critical listening skills: Students will learn how to listen to Beethoven's piano sonatas with a more discerning ear, picking up on the nuances of the music and the various musical elements that Beethoven employs in his compositions.

  2. Deeper knowledge of music history and theory: Through the course's video lectures and interactive quizzes, students will gain a deeper understanding of the history and context behind Beethoven's piano sonatas, as well as key musical concepts such as harmony, melody, and form.

  3. Improved musical performance skills: By watching Jonathan Biss's performance demonstrations of each sonata, students will gain insight into how to play the music with technical accuracy and interpretive sensitivity.

  4. Stronger critical thinking and analysis skills: The course's interactive assignments and quizzes require students to analyze the music in depth and apply what they have learned to real-world examples. This helps students develop their critical thinking skills and their ability to analyze and interpret complex musical works.

Overall, completing Exploring Beethoven's Piano Sonatas Part 3 will equip students with a deeper appreciation of Beethoven's music and the skills to critically analyze and perform it. These skills can be applied to other musical works as well, making the course a valuable learning experience for any classical music enthusiast or aspiring musician.


Jonathan Biss is a world-renowned pianist, composer, and teacher who is known for his deep knowledge and understanding of classical music, particularly the works of Beethoven. Born in 1980 in Bloomington, Indiana, Biss began playing the piano at a young age and quickly showed exceptional talent. He went on to study at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia and later earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Columbia University.

Biss has been praised for his technical virtuosity, musical sensitivity, and interpretive depth. He has performed with some of the world's leading orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic, and the London Symphony Orchestra. He has also released numerous recordings of classical music, including several acclaimed albums featuring the music of Beethoven.

In addition to his performing career, Biss is also an accomplished teacher and music educator. He has served as artist-in-residence at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ, and he is currently on the faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music.

Biss's expertise in Beethoven's music is particularly noteworthy. He has written extensively about Beethoven's piano sonatas, and his insights into the composer's life and work have been widely praised. In addition to his work as a performer and teacher, Biss is also an author, having published two books on the subject of music: "Beethoven's Shadow" and "A Pianist Under the Influence."

Overall, Jonathan Biss is a highly respected figure in the world of classical music, known for his technical skill, musical sensitivity, and deep knowledge of Beethoven's music. His expertise and insights have made him a sought-after performer, teacher, and author, and his contributions to the field of classical music have been widely recognized and celebrated.


The requirements for Exploring Beethoven's Piano Sonatas Part 3 by Jonathan Biss on Coursera are fairly minimal, as the course is designed to be accessible to a wide range of students with varying levels of musical experience. However, there are a few basic requirements that students should be aware of before enrolling in the course. These include:

  1. Access to a piano or keyboard: While it is not strictly necessary to have a piano or keyboard to complete the course, students who are serious about learning and practicing Beethoven's piano sonatas will benefit greatly from having regular access to an instrument.

  2. A basic understanding of music theory: While the course does not assume any prior knowledge of music theory, students who are familiar with basic concepts such as harmony, melody, and form will find it easier to follow along with the lectures and assignments.

  3. A willingness to listen and engage with the music: As a course focused on exploring Beethoven's piano sonatas, "Exploring Beethoven's Piano Sonatas Part 3" requires students to engage deeply with the music and to approach it with an open and curious mind.

  4. A reliable internet connection: As the course is delivered entirely online, students will need a reliable internet connection in order to access the course materials and complete assignments.

Overall, the requirements for Exploring Beethoven's Piano Sonatas Part 3 are fairly minimal, and the course is designed to be accessible to a wide range of students. However, students who are serious about learning and practicing Beethoven's music will benefit greatly from having regular access to a piano or keyboard, as well as a basic understanding of music theory.

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